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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Changes coming in House membership

State House Bureau

April 27. 2014 5:27AM

The House is going to look very different next year no matter which party has the majority.

House Speaker Terie Norelli , D-Portsmouth, announced last week she would not seek reelection. Norelli, who is in her ninth term in the House, wants to spend more time with her family as her husband retires.

She was the first Democratic House speaker in 84 years when she took the gavel for the 2007 session. She wielded it for two terms before the 2010 session, which put Republicans in control of the House with nearly three-quarters of the seats.

She returned as speaker for the 2013 session, when Democrats regained control.

At the end of the week, word leaked out that House Clerk Karen Wadsworth would also retire at the end of the session.

Assistant Clerk Paul C. Smith posted on his Facebook page he would seek the clerk's job.

Wadsworth, the former mayor of Lebanon, served in the House for years before becoming clerk.

Smith is not going to have a free ride; Manchester Democrat and Free Stater Joel Winters has said he would also seek the powerful post.

After spearheading the gas tax increase, Rep. David Campbell , D-Nashua, announced Wednesday he would not be running for reelection. He said the essentially volunteer position was taking too much time away from his law practice.

The next day, the Attorney General's Office released its investigation into an incident that began when Campbell drove over several ducks as he was leaving the Nashua Crowne Plaza Hotel parking garage.

The unflattering report is certainly not the way Campbell would have wanted to herald his departure.

Norelli's and Campbell's announcements are expected to be followed by others in coming weeks.

In the Senate, Bob Odell , R-New London, began a parade of four or five senators who are expected to announce before the end of the session they will not be returning.

Two Republicans have already announced they will seek the District 8 nomination: former New Hampshire Banking Association President Gerry Little of Weare and J.P. Marzullo of Deering.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Linda Tanner of Sunapee is expected to seek her party's nomination in what is a Republican-leaning district.

Sen. Jim Rausch , R-Derry, has not announced whether he would seek reelection in District 19, but other people have announced they would run for that seat.

Rep. Frank Sapareto , R-Derry, a former senator, said he will run in the Republican primary, which is also expected to include Derry Republican Committee Chairman James Foley and Hampstead Rep. Regina Birdsell , who is also chairman of the Rockingham County Republicans.

The race for House speaker will be wide open on both sides, although House Majority Leader Stephen Shurtleff , D-Concord, has been laying the groundwork for a run for some time.

On the Republican side, former Speaker Gene Chandler of Bartlett is a possibility, as is Pam Tucker of Greenland, former House deputy speaker under former Speaker Bill O'Brien .

O'Brien has said he would not seek reelection.

- - - - - - - - - 

Last Dice Roll: Lawmakers will have one last debate on the pros and cons of casino gambling, and it will not be brief.

The House will vote Wednesday on Senate Bill 366, which would establish two casinos with a combined 5,000 video slot machines and 240 table games. 

The House calendar shows four amendments proposed already, and more are being drafted.

One of the amendments will be proposed by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt , R-Manchester. 

It would allow for three casinos and lower the licensing fees while upping the state's tax rate on gross slot revenues and table games.

According to figures from the Legislative Budget Assistant's Office, Vaillancourt's proposal would generate about $63 million a year more than SB 366 would, based on assumptions supplied by Vaillancourt. 

Rep. Keith Murph y, R-Bedford, wants to attach his bill legalizing Keno, a bill the Senate is expected to kill Thursday.

And Sapareto will propose an amendment that dedicates asino revenue to highways and bridges and to lowering business taxes.

More amendments are coming.

This is the third major casino bill lawmakers will have taken up during the current two-year term, with the Senate approving casinos and the revenue they would produce, while the House has consistently turned thumbs down on any proposal.

The Senate is expected to give preliminary approval to a bill revamping the regulatory structure and scheme for charitable gambling Thursday. House Bill 1630 would have many of the same requirements as the bill the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority proposed for commercial casinos, which will be a big change for the charitable gaming industry.

Without changes -- and none are planned -- the bill will go to Gov. Maggie Hassan's desk, if the Senate approves.

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